Cowell art exhibition blends Jewish, African American, Pacific Rim themes

Omoidasu/Remember, Executive Order 9066 (Bonnie Stone)
Omoidasu/Remember, Executive Order 9066 (Bonnie Stone)
A Delicate Balance (Bonnie Stone)
A Delicate Balance (Bonnie Stone)

The Eloise Pickard Smith Galleries at Cowell College will present In Her Place: Visual Narratives by Bonnie Stone, an exhibition opening April 26 and running through June 22 on the UCSC campus.

Stone, who lives in Saratoga, CA, has been producing vivid watercolors for more than five decades.

Infused with humor and wit, Stone’s work presents the viewer with intellectual puzzles that challenge the imagination. Her intimate visual narratives capture scenes of women in whirlwind action and quiet domesticity, while her use of an eccentric bird’s eye viewpoint enhances these experiences. 

Judaic influences reflect Stone’s own personal heritage. Hebrew calligraphy, prayer shawls, and Torah scrolls are blended into a number of works.

Stone also explores universal themes about the ever-changing roles of women, as she portrays works that run the gamut from Eastern European Jewish settings to the perilous navigations of African American women, to the intricacies of Pacific Rim textile patterns.

Stone often uses images of unconnected tightropes to remind the viewer of the difficulties women must face daily.

The exhibit will include works such as “A Delicate Balance” and “Don’t Look in a Mirror When Dancing on a Rope,” spotlighting women in Eastern European clothing viewed from above, as they navigate a tightrope.

Ropes also play a role in her images of African American women, influenced by her encounters with African American culture in Chicago. Trained at Chicago’s Art Institute and the University of Illinois, Stone depicts themes of joy and suffering, love and family, rootlessness and rootedness, and the struggle to upset the status quo in her many scenes of Jewish and African American life.

Pacific Rim cultures are also embedded in Stone’s art. In her 1985 exhibit "Oy Butterfly," she blended Japanese and Jewish imagery for the first time.

The  show is curated by Joan Blackmer, director of the Cowell Galleries, including the Eloise Pickard Smith Gallery and the Ann Dizikes Annex. It will be open to the public Tuesdays through Sundays, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

A Mothers Day Gala Reception will additionally take place on May 12, from 2 to 4 pm, in the Smith Gallery. Prior to the reception, Stone will lead a Gallery Walk, beginning a 12:30 p.m.

Images from this exhibition may be viewed at

For more information, contact the Cowell College office at (831) 459-2253 or the Smith Galleries at (831) 459-2933.